Role of Housekeeping in Hospitality Industry
The aim of all Hotels or establishments that offer accommodation is to provide their customers with clean, attractive, comfortable and welcoming surroundings that offer value for money. Nothing sends a stronger message than cleanliness in a hospitality industry. No level of service, friendliness or glamour can equal the sensation a guest has upon entering a spotless, tidy and conveniently arranged room. Both management and guest consider keeping the place clean and in good order a necessity, for a hotel to command a fair price and to get repeat business.
A survey carried out showed 63% travelers rated cleanliness and appearance as their first priority in their choice of hotels. The housekeeping department takes pride in keeping the hotel clean and comfortable so as to create a ‘home away from home’. Good housekeeping is considered as the backbone of accommodation sector as its main aim is to provide a clean comfortable, safe and aesthetically appealing environment.
Housekeeping is an operational department of the hotel. It is responsible for cleanliness, maintenance, aesthetic upkeep of rooms, public areas, back areas and surroundings.
A hotel survives on the sale of rooms, food, beverage, and other minor services like laundry, health clubs, health spa, sightseeing, shopping arcades etc. The sale of rooms constitutes a minimum of 50% of these sales.
Thus a major part of hotels margin of profit comes from room sales because a room once made can be sold over and over again. However, the days when the room remains unsold there is a total loss of revenue. To this extent, rooms are more perishable than food. The housekeeping budget typically accounts for 20% of the properties total operating expenditure. The largest element of operating cost in the housekeeping department is labour. The effort that the housekeeping department makes in giving a guest a desirable room has a direct bearing on the guest experience in the hotel.
Guest rooms are the heart of the hotel. Unless the décor is appropriate, the air odour free, furnishing and upholstery is spotlessly clean the hotel may loose a guest as a potential customer. The housekeeping department not only prepares the clean guestroom on a timely basis for the guests who are arriving but also cleans and maintains everything in the hotel so that the property is fresh and attractive as the day it opens for business. The housekeeping thus contributes in a big way towards the overall reputation of a property. It is a 24 hour and 365 day operation. Scientific housekeeping demands the employment of the most effective cleaning materials and procedures, attention to purchasing the most suitable linen supplies, maintenance of decorative area under the housekeeping department purview and proper organization and supervision.
Other than hotels, professional housekeeping service is very much in demand in hospitals, cooperate buildings, airports, airlines, cruisers, banks shopping arcade. Since most such organizations prefer to out source these functions, contract housekeeping is becoming a lucrative entrepreneurship venture these days.
AIMS OBJECTIVES & RESPONSIBILITIES of HOUSEKEEPING DEPARTMENT:
· To achieve the maximum possible efficiency in ensuring the care and comfort of the guests.
a) Establish a welcoming atmosphere and ensure courteous, reliable service from all the staff of the department.
b) Ensure a high standard of cleanliness and general upkeep in all areas for which the department is responsible.
c) Provide linen in rooms, food service areas etc and maintain an inventory for the same.
· To provide uniforms for all the staff and maintain adequate inventory for the same.
a) Cater to the laundry requirement, staff uniforms and guest clothing.
b) Deal with the lost and found articles. This ensures the smooth running of the department.
· To resist in the maintenance of the building while contributing to a safe and healthy environment.
· To provide and maintain the floral decorations and landscaped areas of the hotel.
· To select the right contractor and ensure that the quality of work is maintained.
· To coordinate the renovation of the property as and when required in consultation with the management and the interior designer.
· To coordinate with the purchase department of the guest supplies, cleaning agents, equipments, linen, carpets and other items used in the hotel.
· To ensure training control and supervision of all staff attached to the department.
· To establish a good working relationship with other departments.
· To ensure that safety and security regulations are made known to all the staff of the department.
· To keep the G.M and administrator informed of all matters requiring special attention.
Resident guest may be loyal to a particular chain of hotels or properties.Eg. Holiday Inn, Hyatt, etc.Change of brand loyalty can be explained as a matter of habit, maximization of value to price or past experience with service since it is difficult to explain pre purchased information about services. Consumers may be reluctant to change brands as they are uncertain.
Guest also become brand loyal as they realize that repeat patronage to a particular property gives them personalize service and greater satisfaction of their needs. This is due to the fact that guest is recognized as his needs are known by the staff.
Decreasing brand loyalty may be due to:
· The availability of individual brands only in certain locations. This forces the client to choose another brand. In this way the consumer learns about competing brands and is able to make a more realistic evaluation of the kind of brand he would like to patronize.
· Travel writers give useful tips about different hotels, their services and comfort of stay.
· Travel agents also help in giving information about different hotels.
· Trade magazines often do monthly assessments of different hotels.
AREAS of RESPONSIBILTY of HOUSEKEEPING DEPARTMENT:
· Guestrooms / Floors:
Room attendants and floor supervisors are responsible for the cleanliness maintenance and security of guestrooms and surrounding areas.
· Public Areas:
a) Front of the house areas.(Eg. swimming pools, parking area, club, food service area etc.)
b) Back of the house areas.(Eg. Staff canteen, service elevator, locker rooms, administrative canteen, laundry, linen rooms, basement, store except kitchen which is cleaned by the kitchen stewards)
c) Linen and Uniform rooms:
The housekeeping department is responsible for its functioning for the repairs and renewal of linen and for maintenance of proper inventory and stock records of all linen items. Linen includes room linen, food service linen, soft furnishings, uniforms, bed and bath linen.
d) Laundry: OPL (On Premises Laundry):
If the laundry is on premises then the guest laundry from the rooms is directly collected and delivered by the laundry ballet. However all hotel linen is first collected in the linen room and then sent to the laundry for washing. OPL (off premises laundry) is the laundry of both the guest and linen which is done by the external laundry. All the linen including the guest laundry is collected in the linen room from it is sent to the external laundry for washing. The washed linen including the guest laundry is collected at the linen from where it is sent to the guest rooms and other service points.
e) Resident Guests:
They are given their service by room attendance and they are not charged for it. Some hotels have a shoeshine machine in the corridor.
It could either be given out for contract or be a part of the responsibility of the housekeeping department. An employee of the housekeeping department would be required to do the flower arrangements in the lobby, guestrooms, restrooms, restaurants. Any banquet requirements like a backdrop for a wedding are done on contract.
g) Extra Room Complimentries & Supplies:
Iron, first-aid, hot water bags, ice bags, thermometer, hair dryer etc are given out for guest use at no extra cost. However a request for extra beds should be routed through the Front office since the guest would be charged extra for it.
Efficient cleaning and maintenance are dependent upon high-quality cleaning equipment, correctly using. Though only 5-10% of the overall cost incurred on cleaning is accounted for by cleaning equipment and agents, selecting the ideal equipment plays a major role in the cleaning process. There will often be several ways of carrying out any particular cleaning task and different types of equipment that can be employed for it. It is the executive housekeeper’s responsibility to select the most appropriate piece of equipment according to the hotel’s requirement. Most types of cleaning equipment fall under the category of recycled items, but a few large pieces of items may be considered as fixed assets. The correct choice of quality cleaning equipment could save costs due to breakdowns, reduce fatigue and also ensure overall efficiency in operations.
Equipment used in the cleaning of surface, furniture and fittings in a hotel building include both manual and mechanical equipment .
Manual equipment can include all types of equipment that clean or aid in the cleaning process by directly using manoeuvre, operation and energy of employees.
These may be designed to remove dry or wet and/or ingrained dust and dirt from hard or soft surfaces.
Basic parts of a brush: The basic parts of a brush are as follows -
· Bristles: These may be of animal, vegetable or manmade origin. Horsehair, nylon and polypropylene are commonly used to make bristles for cleaning brushes. In general, the finer, softer bristles are best for smooth and hard surfaces. The harder the bristles, the softer the surface on which the brush should be used, exception being toilet brushes and brushes found on all-purpose flour machines. Bristles, if not maintained properly, have a tendency to bend, splay or fall out of the stock. Bristles should be closely set in tufts and the stock well covered with tufts.
· Head stock: This is the part of the brush into which the bristles are inserted. The stock may be of wood, metal, or plastic. A good brush is one that has a sturdy stock.
· Handle: Brush handles may be detachable or non-detachable. Detachable handles must be fixed firmly in place on the stock when the brush is in use.
Types of brushes: Three main types of brushes are used for cleaning surfaces.
· Hard brushes: Hard brushes have bristles that are fairly stiff and well spaced out. They are most suitable for the removal of heavy soil and litter from carpets and for cleaning rough surfaces.
· Soft brushes: Soft brushes have bristles that are fairly flexible and set close together. These help to remove loose soil and litter on hard, smooth surfaces. Such brushes may be designed to dust carpets and furniture, too, especially those made of cane, wicker and bamboo.
· Scrubbing brushes: Scrubbing brushes have short, coarse bristles designed for use on surfaces that have become stained and heavily ingrained with dirt. These brushes should only be used to remove stubborn, heavy soiling from small areas that are difficult for a scrubbing machine to access. Long handled scrubbing brushes, called deck scrubbers or T-scrubbers, are useful for cleaning larger areas as well as corners.
Brushes are also classified on basis of their function:
· Toilet brushes: These are WC brushes, radiator brushes and Johnny mops.
· Bottle brushes: These are used for cleaning overflow vents in wash basins and tubs.
· Cloth scrubbers: These are used for scrubbing clothes.
· Deck scrubbers: These are used for cleaning large areas.
· Carpet brushes: These are used for brushing carpets.
· Upholstery brushes: These are used to loosen out dust embedded between the fabric fibres in upholstered chairs and sofas
· Feather brushes: These are brushes with feathers, for light dusting.
· Hearth brush: These are used for cleaning heavy soiling and removing ash out of fireplaces.
· Flue brush: These are used for cleaning chimneys.
Care and cleaning of brushes:
Brushes should be gently tapped on a hard surface to loosen dust and debris after the cleaning process. Frequent wash with water is avoidable since the brushes may lose some of their stiffness in this way. If they must be washed frequently, the final rinse should be in cold saline water to help the bristles regain their stiffness. Brushes should be cleaned of all fluff and threads before washing. They may then be rinsed in warm, mild soapy water. A disinfectant should be added to the water used for rinsing toilet brushes. If brushes with natural bristles (vegetable or animal origin) have been used for wax polishing, add washing soda (1 tbsp to 2 litres of water) to remove grease thoroughly. Brushes should be washed by beating the head up and down, with the bristles facing downwards, so that the water splashes up between the tufts. They should be rinsed well in the same way in cold water. After shaking off excess water, the brushes should be left to dry in such a way that the remaining water may drip off the side of the brush or the top of the head stock. Never leave brushes resting on their bristles, else they will splay out; if left resting on their stock, water will rot the stock in time. The best way would be to hang the brushes bristles downward. When possible, dry brushes in the sun or open air. To extend the life of the brush, apply lacquer to the stock and handle with an oil-can and allow to harden.
Sweeping brooms consist of long bristles gathered together and inserted into a handle. The bristles of a broom may be made of grass, corn or coconut fibres. Depending on the type, brooms may be used for removing dust or dirt in large areas.
Types of brooms: As with brushes, brooms may be classified into 3 main categories:
· Soft-bristled brooms: Soft bristled brooms such as corn-fibre brooms, grass brooms and whisk brooms are used on smooth floors. A good soft broom has comparatively fewer split ends and any splits that do form are short.
· Hard/Coarse-bristled brooms: Brooms such as yard brooms and coconut fibre brooms are used on course surfaces, especially outdoors.
· Wall brooms: These are also called ceiling brooms or Turk’s heads. They have a soft head and long handle, usually made of cane. These brooms are used to remove cobwebs as well as dust from cornices, ceilings and high ledges.
Electric brooms, arguably a fourth type, have been discussed under
mechanical equipment. All kinds of brooms raise and dissipate dust, so that, with the advent of the more hygienic process of vacuum cleaning, brooms are used less often for cleaning purposes in hotels.
Care and cleaning of brooms:
Brooms should be shaken free of dust and fluff. Never store them standing on their bristles, or the bristles will bend out of shape, resulting in inefficient cleaning. Store brooms either lying horizontally or hanging bristles downward. Never use soft brooms on wet surfaces. Stiff brooms such as coconut-fibre brooms can be used on wet surfaces but must be cleaned afterward thoroughly in saline water and dried in the sun before cleaning.
These are also called carpet sweepers and are used for sweeping up dust and litter from soft floor coverings as well as rugs and carpets. They are ideal for the removal of spills and for light cleaning of small carpeted areas. A box sweeper consists of a friction brush that revolves when the equipment is pushed manually over the carpet bottom to facilitate emptying after use. Choose sweepers with a wide base that is low enough to be pushed under furniture and that will clean close to a wall. In sweepers meant to clean hard floors as well as soft floor coverings, the brush can be lowered to the floor to sweep.
Care and cleaning of box sweepers:
The friction brush should be kept clean; else the efficiency of the equipment will be seriously impaired. After the cleaning process, the dustpans should be emptied of all the collected dust.
Also called dust control mops, these are designed to remove soil and debris from floors, walls and ceilings without raising and dissipating dust. These mops generally consist of a handle to which a metal frame is attached. The mop head is either inserted into the frame or stretched over it, according to the type.
Types of dry mops: There are 4 principle types of dry mops:
· Mops with impregnated fringes: These mops consist of dense cotton fringes, approximately 15 cm in length, inserted into a metal frame of 15-120 cm length. These mops are usually pre-impregnated or will require impregnation by soaking in or spraying with mineral oil or a synthetic impregnating fluid. The dust is held onto the mops by the oil.
· Impregnated mop sweepers: These mops consist of a double-hinged frame and are thus called ‘V-sweepers’ of ‘scissor-action sweepers’. The mops can be pre-impregnated or may require impregnation before each use. Following impregnation, sufficient time must be allowed for the mineral oil to cure the fibres; else the mop will leave a film of oil on the cleaned surface due to improper curing. To be effective, an impregnated mop must also be manoeuvred correctly. It should be worked in long, even strokes in a continual movement, keeping the mop head in contact with the surface all the time. This way, maximum dust collection and minimum dust dissipation is ensured.
· Static mops: These mops consist of acrylic, nylon or polyester strands fixed to a backing stretched over a metal frame. When in use, the fringes splay out to form a large surface area, holding dust by means of a static charge that builds up on the fringe. Static mops are more easily maintained than impregnated mops.
· Disposable mops: These mops consist of a handle with a soft pad at the end, onto which a cheap cotton or synthetic material is affixed. The material has properties enabling it to attract and hold dust. The fabric is held in place by clips or a special tape and is usually purchased in large rolls, from which the desired amount can be cut. The fabric is disposed off after each use and replaced immediately. Although very expensive due to constant replacement of the head, they are extremely hygienic and are particularly suitable when infection control is required.
Care and cleaning of dry mops:
Shake mops well after use outdoors. The mop head should be easily detachable so they can be frequently washed in hot water with detergent. The use of soap-free detergent will prevent the formation of scum that clogs the fibres of the head. The mop must be worked up and down in at least 2 changes of clean, hot water. The clean mop should then be tightly squeezed out, shaken well to get rid of excess moisture and left to dry in open air. Once dry, the mops may need to be re-impregnated.
These mops are used in conjunction with buckets for the removal of dirt adhering to a surface. The mop heads can be made of cotton, sponge or any other fibre capable of absorbing moisture well.
Types of damp mops: There are 4 types of damp mops available:
· Do-all mops: These mops consist of strands of twisted cotton fixed to a circular metal plate, which in turn is fixed to a stock.
· Kentucky mops: These mops consist of cotton strands fixed to a length of cotton fabric which is in turn inserted into a flat metal stock. They are available in weights ranging from 330g to 670g. The strands may be stitched together or unstitched. The former are less likely to tangle, can be laundered more easily and are likely to last longer than unstitched mops.
· Foss mops: These consist of a dense cotton fringe inserted into a heavy metal stock. They are available in a wide range of weights.
· Sponge mops: These consist of cellulose sponge fixed to a replaceable, lever-controlled head, hinged for wringing out and attached to a long handle. Using a sponge mop is one of the easiest ways to wash a hard floor. Short handled sponge mops are also available for cleaning windows.
· Squeegee: A squeegee consists of a long metallic handle and a wooden or rubber blade to remove excess water from a surface being cleaned It is effective when followed by mopping with a damp mop. A smaller version called the window squeegee is used for wiping away water from windows after washing.
Care and cleaning of damp mops:
Take mops outdoors after use and shake well to remove excess moisture. Then these mops may be washed in the same way as dry mops. Detachable heads are easier to clean and maintain. However, drying is the most important part of mop care as bacteria require moisture to multiply. A disinfectant to discourage their growth is effective only for a short period of time, so leaving them damp means letting germs breed. Damp mops should be renewed as soon as there are signs of wear. They should be stored in such a way that air is allowed to circulate around the mop head. Never use disinfectant or bleach with a cellulose sponge head. Wash and rinse sponge heads after use, squeeze out excess water and dry well. Store the sponge head by hanging.
Various cloths are used extensively in wet and dry cleaning by housekeeping staff. For efficient and correct usage, cloths may be colour-coded and the staff well-trained.
Types of cloths: A variety of cloths are available for specific purposes:
· Dusters and cloth mittens: These are meant for dusting and buffing. Soft, absorbent plain or checked cotton material or yellow flannelette of up to 15 sq. Cm is ideal for dusters. When used for damp dusting, they must be sprayed with a fine mist of water or dusting solution. Cloths may be impregnated with a mineral oil instead. Dusters must be folded several times into a hand-sized pad before use so as to provide a number of clean surfaces and avoid spreading dirt again to a clean surface instead.
· Swabs and wipes: These are all-purpose cloths made of soft, absorbent material. They are used for wet cleaning and damp dusting of all surfaces above floor level. They are also used for cleaning sanitary fittings such as bathtubs and wash basins. Wipes include loosely woven or knitted cotton cloths and non-woven cloths. Synthetic sponges may also be grouped under this category. They are available in various sizes and shapes. Sponges are better than cloths for washing walls, woodwork, glass and upholstery.
· Floor cloths: Floor cloths are bigger, thicker and made of coarser cotton material than all-purpose swabs. They are used to wipe WC pedestals and remove spills from floors.
· Scrim: This is a loosely woven linen material resembling fine sackcloth. Scrim, because of its high absorbency and lint-free nature, is often used instead of chamois leather for cleaning windows and mirrors.
· Glass cloths: Glass cloths are made up of linen tow yarns and do not leave behind lint. They can therefore be used for wiping mirrors and drinking glasses. These must not be confused with fabrics made from glass fibres (glasscloth).
· Rags and polishing cloths: Rags are disposable cloths usually obtained from the sewing room or bought by the sack from tailors. They are used for applying polish or strong cleaning agents are disposed off when dirty. Polishing cloths need to have a fleecy napped surface and pieces of flannel are ideal.
· Wet cloths: Wet cloths need to be very absorbent and of a manageable size, so that they can be wrung out by hand easily during cleaning. They are used for mopping large floor areas.
· Chamois leather: Real chamois leather is the skin of the chamois goat antelope, but now various cheaper imitations are available. These simulated chamois leathers are usually skivers, that is, split sheepskin. Chamois leather can be used wet for cleaning windows and mirrors; when dry; it is used as a polishing cloth for silver and other metals. It is also ideal for wiping squeegee blades.
· Dust sheets: Dust sheets are made of any thin cotton material, being about the size of a single sheet. Discarded bed sheets or curtains from the linen room are ideal for use as dust sheets. They are used to cover floors, furniture or other articles during spring cleaning or decorating.
· Druggets: These are made up of coarse linen, fine canvas or clear plastic. They may be the size of a carpet square or runner. They are placed on the floor in doorways to prevent excessive dirt being tracked in or out during bad weather and during redecorating projects. They are sometimes placed in the passage between the kitchen and dining area to catch spills and debris.
· Hearth and bucket cloths: These are made up of thick fabrics and used to protect the carpet and flooring when a fireplace is being cleaned or placed under buckets to prevent marks on the surface they are kept on. They also catch splashes of water.
Care and cleaning of cloths: Good care of cloths is important for efficient cleaning and longer life. Care and cleaning recommendations for various types of cloths are given in Table 7.1.
Table 7.1: Cloth care & cleaning recommendations
CARE AND CLEANING
Dusters and cloth mittens
Wash, rinse and dry thoroughly after use. If cloth mittens are impregnated with mineral oil after washing, keep them covered or they will attract dust.
Swabs and wipes
Wash in hot detergent water, rinse and dry thoroughly after use. Those used on WCs should be disinfected after washing.
Wash in hot detergent water, rinse, disinfect (as floors may harbour many germs) and dry thoroughly.
Wash, rinse and dry after use.
Wash, rinse and dry after use.
Rags and polishing cloths
Rags should be disposed off after use. Polishes with a strong odour may contain flammable chemicals and storing rags and polishing cloths used in their application may prove a fire hazard.
Wash in hot detergent water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Disinfect periodically to prevent them from becoming unhygienic.
If not maintained properly, leather gets cracked and is damaged easily. Remove excess dirt from it with newspaper. Wash only when necessary, in plain cold water. Rinse and either store damp or dry flat. When dry, rub to soften the leather again.
Shake well outdoors after use. Wash, rinse and dry when necessary. Fold neatly and store when not in use.
Shake well by tapping on the ground outdoors, if made of plastic. Use a hard brush to clean away stubborn dirt from cloth. Wash rinse and dry canvas and linen ones frequently. Plastic ones can be damp wiped instead.
Hearth and bucket cloths
Shake well after use. Wash, rinse and dry thoroughly after use. Use a hard brush to clean away stubborn soiling.
These are usually oblong in shape for efficiency of application. The polishing head should slide out from the metal or plastic casing to enable easy replacement.
Types of polish applicators: There are 3 kinds of polish applicators:
a) Natural lambswool, with a built in polish reservoir or tray.
b) Synthetic wool, with a built in polish reservoir or tray.
c) Solid-wax pressurized applicators.
Care and cleaning of polish applicators:
Polish applicators should not be washed with water. Wiping away excess polish with newspaper or rags before it dries should suffice. It is important to label the applicators with the type of polish for which they are to be used so that each applicator is used with just one kind of polish, to avoid mixing different products.
Work becomes much easier and efficient if the staff is given appropriate containers in which to carry, transport, collect and store supplies and other items.
Types of containers: The various types of containers used are:
· Buckets: These may be made of plastic or galvanised iron. Plastic buckets are more popular these days as they are lighter in weight, quieter to use and easier to clean. Buckets to be used with mops may have one or two sections and may have a wringer device that can be detached for easy cleaning. Twin buckets on a low trolley enabled the brush to be rinsed more effectively each time. Larger buckets should have castor wheels which must be kept free of hair, fluff and dust. Buckets should be thoroughly washed, inside and out, every time they are used and then allowed to dry before being stored.
· Basins and bowls: These are used to carry small amounts of water, cleaning solutions and powders for cleaning small areas.
· Dustpans: These are used in conjunction with a broom or brush for gathering dust. They may be made of plastic or metal, plastic ones being the usual choice these days. Dustpans with long handles that eliminate stooping are ideal. In order that the dustpans are effective, the edge in contact with the floor must be thin, sharp and flat. They should always be emptied after use and occasionally washed. They should never be stored resting on their flat edge, as it will wear out and warp so that the pan becomes inefficient. Store dustpans suspended from a hook or lying horizontally, sideways.
· Dustbins : The housekeeping department is concerned with dustbins in 5 areas:
a) In guestrooms: These bins may be made of plastic or wood. Some properties also use jute or wicker bins. Individual dustbins in guestrooms may be lined with a disposable inner lining made of recycled paper or plastic. These bins must be emptied and wiped daily. They should be washed once a week.
b) In the service rooms: These are used to collect waste from guestrooms, brought in by the room attendants’ carts. The carts contain a sack called the trash bag for guestroom trash. There should be 2 types of bins in the service room, a metal bin for disposing of ash from guestroom ashtrays and a plastic or thick paper bin for other types of trash. The latter can be incinerated directly.
c) In public areas such as guest corridors and lobbies: These bins may have a creative design since they are constantly on view. They should be emptied daily.
d) In waste-collection areas: These are usually located outside the main building and are hidden from view. These bins should be kept covered and emptied t least every alternate day
· Sani-bins: These are metal or plastic bins with lids. They are found in toilets for the collection of soiled sanitary towels. They should be lined with plastic or paper bags for easy cleaning. The bins must be emptied and wiped daily for reasons of hygiene. Disposable paper bags (sani-bags) should be provided in the guests’ toilets for wrapping sanitary towels, before disposing in the sani-bin. Some metal sani-bins may be provided with incinerators, but these are not available in India yet.
· Spray bottles: These are lightweight containers that deliver a fine mist or cleaning solution through a fine nozzle, particularly used for spray cleaning. It is essential that the nozzle is properly adjusted and free from any blockage. The nozzle must be kept clean, by spraying clean, pure water through it after every use.
· Polish applicator trays: These are used in conjunction with a polish applicator mop for polishing floors with a liquid polish. They should be labelled with the kind of polish that they hold. Cleaning them after use is difficult. Pour any excess polish back into the polish container. Soak the tray in a small amount of solvent used to remove that particular type of polish. Wipe with rags and store.
· Hand caddies: Also called ‘cleaners’ boxes’, these were originally made of wood or metal but are nowadays usually made of plastic. They consist of a box with a handle and fitted tray. They are used by room attendants for carrying cleaning supplies from room to room for guestroom cleaning. After each shift, they must be cleaned and topped up with replacement supplies for use in the next shift.
Carts and trolleys:
These are more useful than hand caddies when a large amount of supplies and items are to be carted or replaced. They are ideal for the efficient removal and carriage of smaller pieces of cleaning equipment, cleaning agents, linen and rubbish. They eliminate the time wasted in assembling equipment at the work location or moving them from one place to another. The various kinds of carts and trolleys that may be used in the housekeeping department are discussed here.
· Maid’s cart/Room attendant’s cart: Also called a room attendant’s trolley, maid’s cart or chambermaid’s trolley, this is perhaps the most significant piece of equipment in the housekeeping department. It is like a giant tool box; stocked with everything necessary to service a guestroom effectively such carts available are now made of metal, but sometimes wooden carts may be in use. The cart should be spacious enough to carry all the supplies needed for a GRA to complete half a day’s room assignments. Since the cart is large and may be heavily loaded, it must be easily manoeuvrable as well. The ideal cart would have fixed wheels at one end and castor-wheels at the other. The cart should be well organised so that the GRAs do not have to waste time in searching for supplies or make frequent trips back to the supply room. Also if the cart is not stacked neatly, it will look very unsightly when in the guests’ view. There is usually one such cart for each room section and it is stored in the floor pantry along with other housekeeping supplies. Fig 7.6 shows an organized room attendant’s cart.
Fig 7.6: An organized room attendant’s cart
Most of these carts have 3 deep shelves – the lower 2 for linen and the top, partitioned shelf for small supplies. The carts also have a sack for soiled linen, detachable trash bags, storage space for a vacuum cleaner and a hand caddy. Many carts also contain a locked box in which to store the guestroom keys, incase a floor master key is not being used. While arranging the linen on the cart, it should be kept in mind that the heavier linens must be placed on the lowermost shelf and the smaller, lighter ones on the top shelf. Housekeeping supplies that are usually found in the room attendant’s cart are listed in the table below:
IN THE HAND CADDY
· Water tumblers & tray
· Water jugs/bottles
· Ashtrays & matchboxes
· Candle stands & candles double bed (folded in pairs)
· Sewing kits (also called a ‘Dutch wife’ in the singular
· Bibles/Gitas/Qurans (for placement in the rooms
· Shoe mitts
· Service directories
· Telephone books
· Business kits
· Guest stationery folders or sets; ballpoint pens & pencils; scribbling pads
· DND cards
· Copies of the house rules
· Breakfast knob cards; ‘Polish my shoes’ cards; room service menu cards; ‘make my room’ cards; ‘collect my laundry cards’
· Telegraph forms; laundry forms
· Laundry bags; clothes hangers; light bulbs
· Toilet rolls
· Toilet tissues
· Blade dispensers
· Shower caps
· Tooth glasses
· Soap bars
· Soap flakes/powder
· Shampoo bottles
· Sani-bags/disposal bags
· Bottles of bath foam
· Loofah pads
· Packets of cotton wool
· Tubes of toothpaste
· Bottles of cologne
· Bottles of aftershave lotion
· Toilet strips (disinfected paper strips to ‘seal’ the toilet seat)
· Sanitary pads
· Mattress protectors – a few, to replace soiled ones if necessary
· King-size sheets – 2 per kingsize bed (folded in pairs
· Queensize sheets – 2 per queensize bed (folded in pairs)
· Double bedsheets – 2 per double bed (folded in pairs)
· Standard sheets – 2 per twin bed (fold in pairs)
· Kingsize pillowcases – 2 per kingsize bed (fold in pairs)
· Standard pillowcases – 2 per bed (fold in pairs)
· Bath towels/Bath sheets – 2 per bathroom (folded individually, with hotel logo facing outwards)
· Hand towels – 2 per room (folded individually, with hotel logo facing outwards)
· Face towels – 2 per room (folded individually, with hotel logo facing outwards)
· Bath mats – 1 per bathroom
· Bedspreads – a few to replace soiled ones, if necessary
· All-purpose cleaner
· Window/glass cleaner (in spray bottle)
· Johnny mop
· Cloths and sponges
· Rubber gloves
· Naphthalene balls
· Room fresheners
· Brass polish
· Wax polish
· Janitor’s trolley: This is used for carting and storing cleaning supplies. It is used during the cleaning of public areas or any special cleaning projects scheduled for guestrooms. It includes a detachable trash bag and a place for storing cleaning agents and small pieces of cleaning equipment.
· Mop-wringer trolley: This piece of equipment consists of a mop and one or twin buckets with an attached wringer, all mounted on a trolley with caster wheels. It may have provision for holding cleaning agents as well as a trash bag.
· Linen trolley: These are used for the transfer of clean linen from the laundry to the linen room or from the linen room to the floor pantries and so on. Linen trolleys may be made of aluminium or steel.
· Laundry sacks: These, in fact, may or may not be mobile (and hence may not necessarily be trolleys). They may be made of wicker, fibreglass or plastic. A very popular choice is the one made of tough cotton with drawstrings, as it can be washed frequently.
All carts and trolleys need to be kept clean, wiped daily and stored in a locked, dry, well-ventilated area when not in use. A thorough cleaning may be done once a week. The wheels may be oiled during this cleaning. Carts or trolleys should never become general dumping grounds when not in use.
This includes other miscellaneous pieces of equipment used in the housekeeping department – ladders, carpet beaters, and abrasive pads, rubber gloves, airing racks, fit pumps and choke removers.
Ladders are generally made of wood or metals such as aluminium. These days, fibreglass ladders are also available. The different parts of a ladder are the rungs (treads), stiles (side rails), spreaders (the hinge-and-brace arrangement) and footpads.
When buying a ladder, one should primarily consider the following points:
ü What kind is needed for the work it is going to be used for – for occasional work, it may be cheaper to hire a ladder than purchase one.
ü The weight that the ladder must bear.
ü The condition of the ladder.
ü The physical work environment it will be used in.
There are 5 main types of ladders used, based on hotel properties.
· Single-section standing ladders or stairladders: This is the simplest, old-fashioned ladder with 2 straight stiles and rungs fixed across them at a minimum of 254mm intervals. The ideal ones are those with both stiles curved at the apex for safety.
· Stepladders: Various types of stepladders are available. A basic stepladder has 2 rectangular stiles fitted with treads that are a minimum of 76 mm in width. The treads should lie horizontal, parallel to the ground when the ladder is placed at an angle of 75 degrees. A platform stepladder gives a more stable work position with a high-level platform for holding tools and materials in use. It is available in various heights, or without a high-level handrail. The platform must not be more than 3.85m above the ground. The A-type platform ladder opens up like a pair of scissors to make a free-standing set of steps with a small platform at the top, thus leaving the worker’s hands free and eliminating the need to keep getting off to get tools and materials. It is very stable and if fitted with a handrail above the platform, extra-safe. The steps may be folded together for easy storage of the ladder. A swing-back stepladder is self-supporting. Locking stays are fitted together to brace the steps. When opened up, the treads of the ladder lie horizontal.
· Extension ladders: These are used for working at greater heights. These consist of 2 or 3 parts that can be slid along each other to add the required height. They are available with 2 or 3 extensions and in various ‘closed’ lengths of 2.5-3.5 m. A double extension ladder which can give a long length of about 8m should be sufficient for most 2-storey properties. Longer, 3-section ladders can give lengths of up to about 10m. In the case of smaller extension ladders, the ladder may be extended by hand & secured by stay locks that rest on a selected rung. On larger ladders, the sections are extended by means of a roped loop running down the side of the ladder and secured upon a cleat.
· Combination ladders: A combination ladder offers various arrangements to give a stepladder, an extension ladder and a stair ladder in one piece of equipment. The sections fold down to about the same size as a platform stepladder.
· Roof ladders: This type of ladder is used when working on a pitched roof. The roof ladder has 2 wheels at the upper end, which enables it to be pushed along the slope of a roof without damaging the shingles. On the end opposite to the wheels, the ladder forms a hook to fit over the top ridge of the roof, which stops the ladder from slipping down.
ü Angle of inclination: Whichever ladder is used, if it leans at an angle, it should be ensured that the bottom of the slanting section is about 1 foot away from the vertical support for every 4 feet of ladder height between the foot and top support.
Maintenance and storage:
Ladders should be stored in a sheltered area, away from the sun and rain. Wooden ladders especially are adversely affected by exposure to heat combined with dampness. They need a dry, well-ventilated storage area. Wooden ladders used outdoors should be treated with shellac, varnished or given 2 coats of linseed oil as a protective treatment. A wooden ladder should never be painted, as this can hide any defects that may arise, making the ladder potentially unsafe. Straight (stair) and extension ladders should be stored horizontally on racks or hooks, with support points at the top, middle and bottom of the ladder, to prevent sagging and warping. All ladders should be kept scrupulously free of oil, grease, wet paint and other slip hazards. Periodically tighten the reinforcing rods under the steps of a stepladder, spreader hinges and other joints. Despite all the precautions, ladders should nevertheless be carefully inspected for wear and damage before each use. In case of any damage, it is always best to discard it.
v Carpet beaters:
Beating of carpets, although not recommended, sometimes becomes a necessity. Wire beaters should be avoided as they may damage the rug. Instead, rattan beaters should be used. While beating, it is best to place carpets and rugs with their naps down on the grass. They should never be hung up and beaten.
v Abrasive pads:
These are available in the form of non-woven, nylon netting pads, suitable for the removal of localized, heavily impacted soiling by abrasion. Pads with different abrasive properties are produced. Wire-wool and steel-wool pads should be used with caution as they may damage certain surfaces.
The various pieces of mechanical equipment used in the housekeeping department are usually powered by electricity or gas. The staff should be well-trained in the operation of these equipments since incorrect usage will not only lead to inefficient cleaning but may also become a safety hazard.
Vacuum cleaners/ Suction cleaners:
Vacuum cleaners remove debris and soil and/or water from a surface by suction. All vacuum cleaners work on the same operating principle. In all types, motor drives an impeller, which sucks in air through an inlet, creating a difference in pressure between the air within and outside the machine. Air drawn in from the inlet passes through and out of the machine. Air drawn in from the inlet passes through and out of the machine. Usually the air is sucked in together with soil, debris or water. The dust is collected into a container provided, which may be within the body of the machine (as in cylindrical and canister models) or on the outside in the form of a bag (as in upright models). The dust-collecting apparatus in the heavy duty models used in hotel properties usually consists of 2 types of dust bags. The inner bag is made of disposable paper and the outer one is made of fabric.
Types of vacuum cleaners: Various types of vacuum cleaners are available.
· Dry vacuum cleaners: These are used for removing dust and small pieces of debris from floors, upholstery, furnishings, walls and ceilings. Those using a flexible hose come with attachments, such as a floor-cleaning head, a power head, a crevice-cleaning head, an upholstery-cleaning head, a dusting head and extension tubes. Many variations of the dry vacuum cleaner are in use:
v Electric brooms: These are very lightweight vacuums without a motor-driven beater brush. They are used only for light vacuuming and for touch-ups on carpets and hard floors. In other words, they come in handy when a full vacuuming is required.
v Dustettes: These are small, lightweight vacuum cleaners used for cleaning curtains, upholstery edges, mattresses, computers and music systems. They clean by brushing and suction and are very easy to handle. The may be carried in hand or strapped to the back of the operator.
v Backpack vacuums: These are very efficient to clean high, hard-to-reach areas. The vacuum unit in these machines can easily be strapped to the back of the operator. These machines have hand-held wands that come with various attachments for flexibility in cleaning. They are ideal for use on curtains, drapes and ceiling corners. These vacuums are also referred to as piggyback vacuums.
v Upright vacuums: These vacuums are the ones more frequently seen in hotels. The main body of the vacuum lies horizontal on the floor and is driven by a single motor. The dust-bag is outside the machine’s main body. There is a belt-driven beater brush to facilitate removal of dust from thick-pile carpets. In an improved variation, there is a dual-motor system – one motor drives the beater brush and the other provides the suction. The machine also has a built-in hose for cleaning corners and upholstery. This machine is most suitable for use on large carpeted areas.
v Cylindrical vacuums: These have no rotating brushes and work by suction only. The term ‘suction cleaner’ is generally used for these kinds of vacuum cleaners. A filter-cum-diffuser is fitted at the outlet which removes fine dust and micro-organisms from the flow of air passing through the outlet. The filter-cum-diffuser also reduces air disturbance and noise. The dust-bag is inside the cylindrical body of the vacuum cleaner. A flexible hose along with the different attachments is used to clean a variety of surfaces. These are the type commonly used by GRAs in guestroom cleaning.
v Pile-lifter vacuums: These vacuum cleaners are used to groom long-pile carpets. They lift up the carpet pile that has become packed down and restore their vertical orientation. It is especially useful before shampooing the carpet, more so if the soiling is heavy.
v Centralized vacuum: In this type of unit, suction is generated at one point in the building. Meanwhile, soiling can be removed at vacuum points somewhere else in the building by suitable nozzles connected to detachable flexible hoses. The collected dirt is then conveyed by a network of pipes to a central container. This unit is expensive to install and is generally done at the building construction stage. The advantages of this kind of system are :
ü It is extremely hygienic, since all the dust is carried away from the point of cleaning.
ü Maintenance costs are usually lower.
ü Operative fatigue is lower.
ü There are no frayed flexes to repair and no individual machines to go wrong.
· Wet-and-dry vacuum cleaners: These are extremely useful in hotel housekeeping operations. They can pick up spills and excess wash water when on the wet mode. When on the dry mode, they help in removal of dust and debris. In hotels, these machines are usually used in their wet mode to pick up spills. They are also required when large areas of floors are being stripped of polish and cleaned. They have a flexible hose with attachments such as a squeegee head. The waste water collects in a tank that needs to be emptied after use. A variation of this is the large tank-type vacuum cleaners. These are also called canister-type or industrial vacuum cleaners. They can be used for dry and wet pick-up or both. The waste water is scooped up by a squeegee attachment through a nozzle and travels back into the tank. They are used for cleaning large areas when time is a constraint. They are ideal for cleaning lobbies, banquet halls and restaurants.
Points to consider while purchasing a vacuum cleaner:
The housekeeper needs to pose and find answers to the following questions while purchasing a vacuum cleaner:
ü Is the suction power sufficient enough to dislodge dirt as well as remove dust and debris?
ü If the suction power on its own is not efficient enough, can a machine with a rotating brush be selected instead?
ü Can the suction power be directed to where it is needed?
ü Is the machine portable enough for the staff and the layout of the building?
ü Does all the dust get trapped inside the air bag before the air passes out from the outlet?
ü What attachments are available along with the machine?
ü How easy is it to empty the contents of the machine?
ü What is the noise level while operating the machine?
ü Is the cost of the machine within the budget?
Care and storage:
Vacuum cleaners will give maximum cleaning efficiency when they are maintained well. Housekeeping staff need to be trained in the care and maintenance of the machines. The wheels of the machine need to be oiled periodically. After use, the dust bags should be checked and emptied. If the machine is operated with the dust bags full, cleaning will not be operated, the machine may heat up too much and the bags may get damaged. Wipe the casing daily and check the hose and flex before use. Clean the attachment heads after each use. Check the filter after use. If the machine is meant for dry suction only, never use it to clear even a little amount of water, else the dust bags will get damaged.
Incase of wet vacuums, the bucket should be washed, rinsed and dried. The squeegee should be wiped clean and replaced whenever necessary. The hose needs to be rinsed out, the casing and wheels wiped and the filter checked after use. The wheels need oiling periodically.
The hoses should be stored hanging on hooks. The tubes and attachment heads of a dry vacuum cleaner should be stored in boxes, drawers of shelves. The hoses and attachment heads of wet vacuum cleaners should be stored off the ground on a rack, in a well-ventilated place.
General-purpose floor machines (scrubbing and polishing machines)
These are designed for scrubbing, buffing, burnishing, scarifying and spray maintenance.
· Scrubbing: The bristle tips of a brush or the surface of a pad abrade and cut the soiling to remove it.
· Buffing: The bristle tips of a brush or the surface of a pad create a high-gloss finish on the floor surface. In case of a surface on which a polish has been applied, it will involve generation of a local heat to harden waxes and resins.
· Burnishing: The tips of a brush or the surface of a pad abrade and cut the floor surface to create a smooth surface with a glossy finish. In case of a polished surface, it will involve the removal of a surface layer of polish.
· Scarifying: The bristle tips or edge of a cutting tool, cut into impacted soiling and remove it by means of a chisel-like action.
· Spray cleaning : This is similar to spray cleaning, but the term is applied to the maintenance of floors where a buffable or semi-buffable polish has been applied and the bristle tips of a brush or the surface of a pad remove both soiling and the surface layer of polish to leave a smooth, glossy surface. Resins and waxes in the maintenance product form part of the restored finish. These machines consist of one large or several small brushes that revolve and scrub the floor. Water and detergent are released from a tank attached to the machine. These machines can be used for shampooing carpets, polishing floors and spray maintenance. Such general-purpose machines are preferred in many establishments as the machine can be put to greater use due to its versatility. In some machines, coloured, abrasive nylon pads replace the scrubbing brushes. For normal-speed machines:
v Beige pads are used for buffing;
v Green pads are used for scrubbing; and
v Black pads are used for stripping.
The lighter the colour of the pad, the lesser abrasive is the action. These machines may come with or without the suction capacity to pick up water. If the machine is one without a suction action, then the machine will have to be used in conjunction with it while scrubbing. The usual attachments for these machines are brushes, drive discs, coloured nylon pads, a water tank, a shampoo tank and a sprayer.
Care and storage of general-purpose machines:
The brushes and pads should never be left on the machine after cleaning. The brushes should be detached after cleaning. The fluff should be removed from them after washing. Wash, rinse and dry wet ones after use. The dry ones should be washed occasionally, but dust should be tapped away after use regularly. The pads should be washed, rinsed and dried thoroughly. The tanks should be emptied, washed and dried. The wheels and casing should be wiped after use. The wheels need oiling periodically. The flex should be checked for any fraying before each use. Brushes and pads should be stored in a well-ventilated area, preferably on airing racks or hooks. They should not be kept flat on the ground. The tops of the tanks may be loosely fitted during storage.
These machines are used to restore the surface appearance of carpets, upholstery and curtains. They remove the more deeply embedded soilage not easily removed by suction cleaning. They are also useful in the application of soil-retardant finishes on carpets.
Types of wet-extraction systems: There are various types of wet-extraction systems.
· Hot-water extraction machines: These are machines with no rotary action. They carry a tank for hot water and detergent, which are used for deep cleaning carpets. The hot water and detergent are shot into the carpet from high-pressure spray nozzles. The dirt is thus flushed to the surface and this, along with the soiled water is removed by suction into a container in the machine.
· Solvent extraction machines: These machines are primarily used for cleaning upholstery and curtains and to a lesser extent for carpets.
Carpet shampoo machines:
These machines, as indicated by the name, are designed for the deep cleaning of carpets that are heavily soiled.
Types of carpet shampoo machines: There are 4 broad groups of these machines:
· Steam-extraction machines: Though these machines are universally called steam extraction machines, there is in fact no generation of steam and the cleaning agents are simply hot water and detergent. Hot water containing the detergent is injected at a prescribed rate and subsequently extracted by a wet vacuum system built into the machine.
· Cylindrical-brush dry-foam machines: This system has a cylindrical brush that scrubs that scrubs and picks up in one pass, the foam generated by the machine.
· Rotary-brush wet-shampoo machines: A rotary brush cleaner in conjunction with a wet shampoo is employed for the cleaning of carpets here. The machine comes with a range of accessories including vacuum and drying equipment.
· Small rotary-brushes wet-shampoo machines: This is also a rotary brush cleaner, but employs 2 brushes instead of 1 and is somewhat smaller than the rotary-brush wet-shampoo machine.
These machines remove debris, soiling and/or water. They are suitable for large areas where mechanical sweeping, scrubbing and drying are required.
Types of scrubber-drier-sweepers: The various types available are as follows:
· Power sweepers: These are self-propelled or manually propelled machines designed to remove debris and loosen soiling from roads, pavements, carpets and large areas of hard flooring.
· Pedestrian-driven sweepers: These feature a battery or mains-operated rotating broom that carries dirt back into a hopper. A side-broom suction unit and filters may be included.
· Petrol or gas-driven sweepers: These have petrol or a gas-powered engine to drive a suction unit and brush. Soiling is brushed back into the inflow and collected in a large cloth sack situated behind the motor. These machines are suitable for the sweeping of pavements, car parks and similar heavy-traffic areas.
· Self-propelled sweepers: These machines may be petrol, gas or battery-powered. The power is transferred to the drive wheels and a rotating broom, which carries soiling away from a surface. Such machines typically contain:
v A side broom to carry debris from the floor edges into the path of the main broom.
v A water spray or suction with the side broom to prevent rising of dust clouds.
v A high volume suction-unit that sucks or blows air through a filter as dust or dirt is deposited in the hopper.
v A filter shaker or air-flow reverser to prevent blockages.
This type of equipment is designed to remove soiling by subjecting the surface to water, steam and/or sand under pressure. Water under pressure physically dislodges the dirt. The process can be assisted by the use of hot water, steam or sand.
Scarifying is the process by which heavy grease, mud, wet sawdust and thick deposits are removed from the surface of floors. The process is employed when simple scrubbing has been ineffective. Here dirt deposits are broken up by the chisel-like action of a wire-brush cutting tool.
Types of scarifiers: 2 kinds are available -
· Heavy-duty scrubber polishers: These single-to-three-brush machines can have a brush weight of 65kg or more. They are used in conjunction with a scarifying assembly. Dislodged dirt is removed by a second operation involving sweeping.
· Self-propelled scarifiers: These consist of a revolving tool, a hopper into which the dirt is thrown up by the tool and suction-unit filter to remove finer particles.
Storage, Distribution and Control of Cleaning Equipment
All housekeeping equipment must be stored under lock & key. When issuing equipment for use, proper records must be maintained with information regarding:
ü The items issued
ü The attachments given along with them
ü To whom they were issued
ü The date and time of issue
ü The area where they are to be used
ü By whom they were issued
ü The date and time of return
The signature of the personnel involved must be obtained on the document during both issue and return. A card-index system is a useful method of collecting all the relevant info about each piece of equipment being used in a particular establishment. A sample card index is presented in Exhibit 7.1. This system is of great value to the manager and supervisor for the following reasons:
ü It gives up-to-date info concerning the equipment.
ü It indicated the location of the equipment.
ü It indicates who usually operates the equipment.
ü It contains a record of what servicing has been carried out, costs, new accessories supplied, and so on.
ü When purchase of new equipment is being considered, this info can be used as a reference to check on reliability.
Exhibit 7.1: Sample card for equipment indexing
Type of equipment: Taski 450 smm(18”) brush, low-speed machine
Date of purchase
Cost of machine
Period of guarantee
Specific user(if any)
Location of area where used
6 Feb 2006
S. Justin (Houseman)
Taski, Johnson Diversey, Cochin
Mr. Samson (558889)
Date first used
Other users(if any)
Other areas(if any)
12 Feb 2006
Banquet Hall 2
Selection of Cleaning Equipment
It is the responsibility of the executive housekeeper to procure the ideal, most efficient equipment for her staff to ensure maximum productivity. The choice of equipment to be purchased is made after considering the following factors:
ü Safety in operation.
ü Suitability to the type of area, surface, work, amount of obstruction and cleaning frequency.
ü Versatility to undertake various types of cleaning
ü Work performance in terms of capacity and machine and consumer reports on performance.
ü Ease of handling in terms of size, weight and height of the machine and ease of manoeuvring and operating.
ü Portability in terms of ease of transfer between floors and the provision of wheels and detachable parts and consumer reports on life expectancy.
ü Noise level which is a more important consideration for hospitals than hotels.
ü Availability of spare parts, easy servicing conditions and lead time after booking of equipment.
ü Protective design which may feature a protective edging to prevent damage to wall furniture and fittings and no sharp edges.
ü Ease of storage in terms of ease of dismantling detachable parts and storage space required (compactness).
ü Cost as a sum of initial costs, operating costs, maintenance and depreciation, as well as hiring considerations as opposed to purchasing.
IT SAVVY HOUSEKEEPING
IT SAVVY HOUSEKEEPING
Many hotels have invested heavily in information technology (IT) infrastructure and networking that deploy the latest technical advances in their operations.
The latest in IT amenities
The newer technologies that are gaining entry into the hospitality segment are Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), radio frequency identification, and the possibility of tracking inventory and guest data through the convergence of cellular and wireless technologies, GPS (global positioning system), VoIP (voice over internet protocol), handheld communication devices and so on. Over the past few years, in addition to the more common wired networks, hotels have been giving greater importance to wireless local area networks (WLANs) and mobile computers
Wireless connectivity is developing rapidly, enabling the whole world to stay networked and connected. Business travelers in particular are always looking for ways to stay productive while on the move and expect wireless connectivity at their facilities as wireless connections improve a guest’s experience by providing complete mobility.
WLANs allow guests to share high-speed Internet connections, browse the Web, access their corporate networks remotely yet securely , access the business centre from their room, organize video conferences, play games online , and use multiplayer gaming options.
In India, although there are on the whole relatively few hotels that provide wireless connectivity for guests, the hospitality industry was among the first to implement this technology. Hotels either provide Wi-Fi as a value added amenity to guests or offer the service at a cost to their guests . Wi-Fi is provide in guestrooms as well as public areas, lobbies, meeting rooms, lounges, and so on. Wireless connectivity permits users roam unrestricted throughout the hotel facility, with real-time access to critical information as and when required.
IT in the Housekeeping Department
WLAN technology is enabling a wide range of hospitality applications in the housekeeping department. Housekeeping staff can now conduct room checks after the guest vacates the room through a handheld Wi-Fi–enabled device to report the status of the room. They can also communicate with security personnel instantly over e-mail in case of an emergency. Staff can also ensure from a remote spot that fire extinguishers are charged, emergency lights are functioning, and so on check and communicate inventory information for guestroom supplies and the stocking of mini bars in order to ensure that provisions are replenished in an efficient manner. Housekeeping managers can also contact workers and identify their locations quickly, resulting in quicker response times.
VoIP is the fundamental enabling technology that converts voice signals into a form that can be sent over a data network, such as the internet or one of the typical local area networks (LANs) found in most hotels today.
Many housekeepers have strived to keep their department computer-savvy. Computers are now being used in many housekeeping departments for rooms management inventory control, linen management, and so onto varying extents. Many software packages are now available in India that provide specific applications for housekeeping operations .Computers can now be linked to telephone system in each individual guestroom. This technology greatly reduces the cost of individual wiring in each guestroom. For instance, an interface can be created between the telephone system and the CPU (central processing unit) of the hotel’s computer network by the GRA dialing a specific sequence of numbers on the phone from a specific guestroom. Once connected, the computer immediately recognizes the room number to which it is being connected. After the connection is established, a specific list of dial-up codes become available to the GRA; by way of which he or she can now transmit information to the computer system directly without the need for additional input devices in the rooms.
Housekeeping operations modules are now an integral part of integrated hotel management software. The modules widely available include applications such as forecasting GRA requirements, daily housekeeping scheduling, tracking housekeeping history, and monitoring GRA performance.
Forecasting GRA requirement This module is designed to forecast the total number of, GRAs needed each day in the future, based on the current in-house occupancy and staffing and the expected arrivals /departures over the forthcoming period. these modules can forecast staffing requisites up to365 days in advance, given the right inputs.
Daily housekeeping scheduling This application can automatically create and print estimated cleaning time needed per room , and the number of GRAs in the establishment. A ‘housekeeping status screen’ is the core element of the system, and tracks each housekeeper, updating the status as rooms are cleaned and inspected. The module tracks the status from ‘dirty’ to ‘ready for inspection’ to ‘clean and ready for guests’. This is made possible by marking the rooms ‘clean’ using an in-room intercom or handheld wireless PDA (personal digital assistant) as each GRA and supervisor is through with them.
This module can also schedule the servicing of guest requests. For instance if a guest calls the front desk and requests a crib or extra towels, the front desk can simply input this request into the computer and it then appears on the main housekeeping monitor screen. A guest request notification to the most suitably placed GRA can also be sent automatically to a handheld wireless PDA or cell phone by way of a text message or e-mail.
Housekeeping history and GRA performance reports This is a historical reporting module. It is possible to measure the performance of each GRA by tracking the ‘estimated clean time’ and the ‘actual clean time’, as well as the variances. Supervisors can enter comments on each cleaning too. Since supervisors use the intercom in the room to mark the room as ‘ready for guests’, this system can also store the time at which the supervisor finished the inspection. thus ,reports are available that show how much time elapsed between the GRA marking the room as ‘ready for inspection’ and the supervisor completing the inspection. The executive housekeeper can thus track the time and duration for each room cleaning by each person. For instance, if a guest is found to have checked into a dirty room, the housekeeper can determine which GRA or supervisor erroneously marked the room ‘clean’.
There are now many and various innovations and trends in housekeeping, the principle ones being outsourcing and eco-friendly housekeeping. Professional housekeepers are striving to get housekeeping its due recognition in the hospitality industry. After all, this department is responsible for bringing in the largest share of profit to an accommodation operation, but this fact is hardly acknowledged and veterans of the industry too often must consider it a thankless job.
Housekeeping operations are increasingly becoming scientific and mechanized .However the fact remains that the majority of the lower rung housekeeping workforce are unskilled. Hence training in housekeeping procedures and equipment is essential and this should be a continuous when the department spends time, energy and resources on training employees, all efforts should be made to motivate and retain them as well. This chapter has also discussed the training issues in housekeeping today.
A major trend in hotels is towards becoming more eco-sensitive. This trend is influencing the housekeeping departments in the hotels too. Housekeepers are developing and adopting new ways to conserve water and energy and opting for eco-friendly amenities and products. Use of ozone in various areas in the housekeeping area in particular has been a big step toward environmental protection.
This chapter discussed information technology in housekeeping at length, mentioning Wi-Fi, GPS, VoIP, and WLAN applications. Many hospitality–specific software’s having comprehensive housekeeping applications are on offer in the market now. Hotels in developed countries have utilized IT in a big way in housekeeping, which is not yet the case in the Indian scenario, however. Thus housekeepers need to become more IT-savvy and collaborate with software professionals in developing modules for various applications in housekeeping operations. Almost all subroutines in housekeeping tasks are amenable to being adapted to IT systems.
Amenity: a service or item offered to guests or placed in guestrooms for their convenience and comfort at no extra costs.
Ayurveda: A Sanskrit term made up of the words ayus (life) and veda (knowledge or science) this refers to a system of using the inherent principles of nature to maintain health in a person by keeping the individual’s body, mind, and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature.
Biodegradable: Substances capable of being decomposed by living organisms.
CPU: Central processing unit of a computer system.
Crib: cot for babies, provided to guests on request.
Cross-training: Training employees to work in departments other than their speciality during periods of staff shortage.
Duvets: Quilts filled with down feathers or synthetic fibers. Many hotels use duvets with a decorative duvet cover to replace both blankets and bedspreads. They are sometimes referred to as ‘comforters’ as well.
Ergonomics: The study of the efficiency of people in relation to their working environment.
GRS: Guestroom attendant.
GPS: Global positioning system, which uses satellites and receiving devices used to compute position on the earth.
Hygiene: The science that deals with the preservation of health by maintaining high standards of cleanliness.
IT: Information technology.
LAN: Local area network—a group of computers and associated devices that share a common communication line or wireless link and typically share the resources of a single processor or server within a small geographic area.
Outsourcing: A conscious business decision to move internal work to an external provider.
Ozone: A form of oxygen where each molecule is composed of three atoms of oxygen instead of the more usual. It decomposes quickly and easily, turning into regular oxygen, where the extra oxygen atom splits away from the ozone molecule.
Performance standards: A required level of performance to meet the quality standards set by the organization.
PDA: Personal digital assistant-–a handheld computer that serves as an organizer for personal information; it may be also combined with a cell phone and other wireless technologies, providing a mobile office for the people on the go.
Productivity standards: An acceptable amount of work to be done within a specific timeframe according to an established level of performance.
Sanitizer: An agent used for reducing microbial counts to an acceptable level.
SOPs: Documents of a standing nature that specify a certain method of operating or specific procedures for the accomplishment of a task. SOPs can be developed for all important housekeeping activities and tasks.
VoIP: Voice over internet protocol---a category of hardware and software systems that enables people to use the internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls by sending voice data over the internet. VoIP is also referred to as ‘internet telephony ’, ‘IP telephony ‘or ‘voice over the internet (VOI)’.
Wi-Fi: Wireless fidelity—an amenity provided nowadays by most world-class hotels, this technology enables guests to access wide range of information, applications, and computing resources without having to worry about connectivity issues.
WLAN: Wireless local area network---a typical of local area network that uses high frequency radio waves rather than wires to communicate between nodes. It is also referred to as ‘LAWN’ or ‘local area wireless network.’
Work study: An analysis of the tasks, the equipment, and the time taken to do a specific job. This is an important tool for determining standard operating procedures.